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Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Did WWE Bill WrestleMania III As the First Hogan vs. Andre Match?

September 18, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
WWE WrestleManias WWF WWE WrestleMania III Andre the Giant Hulk Hogan WrestleMania's Hulk Hogan’s

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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Tyler from Winnipeg asks about a dream match we may have missed:

Jokes aside, HHH obviously met The Ultimate Warrior in person but did he actually meet Macho Man Randy Savage. I’m thinking Randy was doing commentary when Hunter was hired but I’m not positive.

Triple H and Randy Savage were never employed by the WWF at the same time. Trips had his first WWF match on April 25, 1995, while Savage had already made his in-ring debut for WCW on January 6 of the same year. Actually, HHH’s last WCW match was on January 22 of ’95, so they did overlap briefly in one company’s locker room, it’s just not the company that most people would expect.

Would the two ever have actually met each other backstage?

Possibly. There was one occasion – and only one occasion that I could find record of – where the two men had a match on the same show. On a January 10, 1995 taping of WCW Saturday Night, which aired on January 28, Triple H (then known as Jean-Paul Levesque) lost to Dustin Rhodes, while in the main event, Randy Savage wrestled Arn Anderson to a ten minute draw in a match for Double A’s WCW World Television Title.

Interestingly, on one of his podcasts, Ric Flair made the claim that, at one WCW event, Savage proposed that he should squash Levesque in one minute because Levesque was on his way out the door whereas Savage was still fairly new to the promotion. Flair takes credit for vetoing that idea and instead booking Savage into a time-limit draw with Anderson. Though Flair didn’t reference specific dates in the interview, based on all of the other surrounding circumstances, it seems highly likely that the event the Nature Boy was referencing was the January 10 Saturday Night taping I’ve mentioned above.

Bret (not Hart) is rewriting history:

I was wondering: When Hogan and Andre faced off in 1987 at Wrestlemania III, why was there no mention of their match at Shea Stadium in 1980? I know at that time Hogan was the heel and Andre was the fan favorite, but they act like that match never happened or that Hogan never appeared in the WWF before 1984.

There were a lot of things that the WWF failed to acknowledge in the buildup to that match. First off, they attempted to portray Andre as having been undefeated, which was far from the truth. In fact, Antonio Inoki had defeated him less than a year earlier in the semifinals of the IWGP League tournament on June 17, 1986. Even in WWF rings, Kamala of all people had actually defeated the Giant via count out in the Maple Leaf Gardens on on September 23, 1984. And was Hogan the first person to ever slam Andre?

The answer to that question is no, as established in this excellent compilation video:

So why would the WWF make all of these false claims, in addition to ignoring the Hogan/Andre Shea Stadium match? (To say nothing of the 31 other singles matches the two had against each other before 1987.) The answer is storytelling. Whether it’s true or not, the claim that these two men who have “never” faced each other before are going to go at it in a match where one of them could be defeated and slammed for the “first” time makes for a better story than “these two guys who have wrestled and beaten each other almost three dozen times before are doing it again.”
Emerging from 20,000 leagues under the sea, it’s Hydra Dude:

Are there any documented cases of someone winning a Street Fight/No DQ/No Holds Barred/etc. match by kicking their opponent in the ol’ twig & berries as soon as the match starts & getting the quick cheap pin?

First off, let me just say that I did not realize that doing searches related to low blows in pro wrestling would take me down some of the weird, fetish-istic rabbit holes that it did.

In any event, I was not able to find an instance of exactly what Hydra Dude described. Probably the closest that I came was the Jeff Hardy versus Shinsuke Nakamura United States Title match at the 2018 Extreme Rules show. Before the bell even rang, Nakamura low blowed Hardy. Once the match began, Nak immediately hit a kinshasa and got a three count to win the championship.

JJ is disrupting the show:

C.M Punk chants are familiar to everyone, despite his not being with the company, that got me thinking . . .

During the Monday Night War, were there ever any highly audible chants for the opposing promotion’s wrestlers, be it the WWF/E, WCW or in the highly unlikely case even ECW? If other occurrences outside of the time period come to mind, those could be mentioned as well.

The first instance that I can remember of something like this happening was the 1991 Great American Bash, which occurred shortly after Ric Flair left WCW and was supposed to have been headlined by a Flair versus Lex Luger match for the company’s world championship. When the Nature Boy bolted, that got changed to Luger against Barry Windham for the vacant title. As soon as those two got into the ring, they were greeted with loud “We want Flair!” chants that continued through the rest of the evening. The chants would continue at WCW events on and off for the next several months. Though Flair hadn’t yet signed with the WWF and thus wasn’t an “opposing promotion’s wrestler,” he was definitely somebody not with the company anymore, basically putting him in the same position that Punk occupies now.

Also, it was not uncommon at all to hear general “ECW” chants on both WWF and WCW programming during the 1990s, sometimes when alumni of that company were wrestling but other times simply when the audience got bored with what was being presented. I believe one of the first instances of this occurring was during the infamously bad 1995 King of the Ring pay per view, which was held in Philadelphia and featured ECDub’s infamous “Hat Guy” fan in the front row.

Night Wolf the Wise asks a question that leaves me feeling a bit perplexed:

I wanted your opinion on something. Vince tries to push Roman Reigns as the next face of WWE, and no one else, thus the product fails because they don’t know what to do with the wrestlers they have. Do you think part of Vince’s problem is he tries too hard to follow culture trends? It’s talked about how he wanted to toughen up WWE’s image, because they were tired of being a laughing stock because of the cartoon characters they had. But wasn’t he following the sex, drugs, and rock & roll of the 80s? The grunge era came in the early 90s so it was no longer cool to be like the 80s. Then he wanted characters based off the blue collard workers, so we got the Attitude Era. At the time you had bands like Rage against the Machine singing songs about being against the establishment. He seems to be the only wrestling owner that does this. An American Hero (Hogan) defending against evil foreign invaders, evil boss vs. blue collar worker, Occupy Raw, Make Darren Young Great again, etc? He’s pushing Roman Reigns, because he has the muscular look. It worked for Hogan, Warrior, and Cena, it will work for Roman Reigns right? What are you’re thoughts on this and to what extent do you think following culture trends works when trying to present great product to audiences and where do you draw the line on what’s going to work and what’s not?

I don’t think that Vince McMahon’s problem is that he follows cultural trends too much. If anything, from everything that I’ve read, he’s got the exact opposite problem – he is so disconnected from popular culture that he has difficulty figuring out what is going to resonate with the younger audiences who are necessary in order to perpetuate WWF/WWE into the future.

If you listen to any shoot interview with talent or former staff who are willing to take up the subject, the general consensus is that Vince McMahon lives inside a pro wrestling bubble. There are plenty of stories out there about an individual bringing up a popular movie, television show, or band in front of McMahon and him having no idea what is going on. This makes sense, if you think about it, because the dude is a 75-year-old workaholic, and there are relatively few 75-year-olds out there who are keeping their finger on the pulse of what’s popular with individuals who are two-thirds of their age, let alone 75-year-olds who keep their finger on that pulse while simultaneously putting in the kind of work and road schedule that Vinnie does.

I think that you can see the effects of McMahon’s connection with the rest of the entertainment world when you look at how he books his top babyfaces. Pretty much everybody since the Rock has been forced into the same mold of what made the Rock popular, trying to play a too cool for school jock who cuts fifteen minute promos laced with oftentimes juvenile one-liners. The Rock was able to make that work because he had the charisma and star power to make just about anything work, but there were diminishing returns for John Cena – who had his own charisma and star power but not at Rocky’s level – and even moreso for Roman Reigns, who given his look and persona in the shield should have been booked as anything BUT a wisecracking blue chipper.

Vince was continuing to force his main eventers into this years-old mold despite the fact that watching any other program on television should have told him that what viewers wanted in a protagonist had drastically changed. Shows like Justified or The Walking Dead showed that audiences were interested in more serious, take-charge characters who were rough around the edges but ultimately had their own moral codes. If we had somebody at the head of creative who was more in tune with the popular consciousness, we could have seen a top babyface who had that sort of persona when instead we had Roman Reigns reciting fairy tales about magic beans or John Cena spray painting the word “poopy” on JBL’s limousine.

Meanwhile, if you look at the two times that Vince did make the WWF into part of the mainstream of entertainment, the crossover occurred because the Fed mirrored what was popular elsewhere in the industry. The Rock n’ Wrestling Connection grew off the back of popular mainstream stars like Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper stepping foot into the WWF, as well as wrestling being featured on MTV. McMahon was in his late 30s and early 40s at this time, so he wasn’t near as disconnected from what young people enjoy as he is now. Then, in the late 1990s with the Attitude Era, McMahon was pushed in that direction by people like Vince Russo (in his late 30s at the time) who saw the popularity of franchises like Jerry Springer and South Park at the time and attempted to take wrestling in that direction.

In other words, wrestling always seems to have been at its best when it has looked to the outside entertainment world for inspiration, not when it has focuses solely on its own tropes and tries to eternally perpetuate them. If anything, WWE might be due for another round of refreshing itself based on what is popular in the mainstream.

Tack Angel is turn, turn, turning:

Was curious about a semantics question. Every now and then WWE likes to have “season premieres” of RAW or Smackdown. I was curious if you could pinpoint how many seasons RAW & Smackdown have had? Using the idea that a season only ends, when the next week they state that an episode is a “Season Premiere”.

I was only able to find record of two instances of Raw promoting a “season premier,” one being in 2014 and the other being last year in 2019, so if you’re going to use those criteria, Raw has had only three seasons, one that lasted for 21 years, one that lasted for five years, and one that has been ongoing for the last year or so. However, that’s a pretty ridiculous result, so I would say that’s not the best way to count the “seasons” of a wrestling television show.

If you look to IMDB, their claim is that Raw has had 29 seasons. They list each calendar year from 1993 when the show debuted through 2013 as being its own season. Then, in 2014, the season ends with the September 1, 2014 episode and Season 23 starts with the September 8, 2014 episode and concludes with the September 7, 2015 episode. From that point on, IMDB’s “seasons” continue to be a year’s worth of episodes ending with the first episode of September until 2018-2019, when the “season” for that year ends with the September 23, 2019 ep and the next season picks up with the September 30 installment. IMDB then continues the pattern by saying that the 29th season begins on September 28 of 2020.

Wikipedia, meanwhile, lists Raw as having 27 seasons but does not cite any source as to how they got to that number. (Just another one of many weird half-truths that Wikipedia’s wrestling editors are intent on pushing.) However, 27 is the number of years that Raw has been on the air, which I assume is how they got to that figure.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia claims that Smackdown has had 18 seasons and IMDB claims that they have 23 seasons, all based on similar counts to how they reached their Raw seasons.

It should also be noted that, in the case of both IMDB and Wikipedia, this all appears to be user-submitted data as opposed to anything coming from an official source or objective third-party source, so in the long run it’s all made up and doesn’t matter.

Barry is going back to basics:

Back in the days of World of Sport on UK TV, the wrestling would come on and you’d get a match, straight off the bat. It was one guy / team vs another. There was no background story for the most part, occasionally you’d get that it was a qualifier or part of a tournament, or a re-match, but that was it. Then you’d get a second match and sometimes a third. Even more occasionally, you’d get a quick promo from the people in the next match.

Basically, it was a wrestling show, you got wrestling. No backstage segments, just in ring action.

My question is, in 2020, and not just in the UK, anywhere, would this type of show work? Would there be an audience for it?

This is basically what Japanese wrestling looks like. There are promos, and there are angles, but they’re relatively brief when compared to American wrestling and mostly happen in the ring or at the very least in backstage environments that mimic the backstage environments that you’d see legitimate athletes in following sporting events.

So, yes, there is a place in the world where something like this has worked for quite a while and continues to work.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers